Lately we’ve been getting frequent messages from people wondering the same thing: what’s up with your inventory? When will this product or that product be available again? First of all—thanks for asking. We wanted to respond and let everyone in the Herd know why we’ve seen delays, and what to expect moving forward.
To know where we’re going, you have to first look at where we’ve been. App Gear Co experienced tremendous growth starting in the fall of 2019. As with any small business, one of our biggest challenges has been learning how to effectively manage that rise. That includes forecasting future growth so that we can properly plan for inventory, as well as hire and train new employees to meet the demand.
As you probably know, we import yarn from Peru, then use that yarn to produce All-Paca fabric at our own facility in Charlotte, NC. The entire process, from ordering yarn to offering the finished product, takes about 10 weeks. That means effective planning during a period of significant growth can be very challenging, and a learning experience, as well. Many people ask us if we could just purchase yarn domestically. Though we are continually searching for domestic 100% alpaca yarn that meets our specifications, so far, we haven’t been able to find it. In fact, during our early research and development days, domestic suppliers reached out to us to say we’d have to source our fiber from Peru, because they couldn’t meet the specification we required to make our All-Paca fabric. Even when we started the discussion with Peruvian suppliers, we faced a steep learning curve, because no one had ever made a fabric like ours before. That part of the process alone took about a year.
Fast forward to January of this year, and suddenly we were having a hard time keeping up with demand. Keep in mind—the yarn we have today is from an order placed weeks ago. That is a significant time frame during periods of growth and high demand. We were just getting caught up, placing larger and larger orders, when COVID-19 struck.
As the virus spread, Peru went on full quarantine, and as a result, our yarn shipments came to a screeching halt. The fact that we had been increasing our orders before that happened allowed us to bridge the gap as our supply chain faltered and enabled us to continue forward without having to lay off any employees. However, what you will see over the next month is that we will have very little inventory available. The good news is our supply chain is beginning to loosen up, and we have yarn on the way again. After this short period of scarce inventory (which you are seeing right now), we will slowly be able to rebuild our pipeline. By midsummer, we should achieve a steady level of product to match our growth, with minimal inventory outages.
So, what is the future of App Gear Co? We are optimistic! Despite significant logistical challenges during this period, we’ve been working harder than ever and have been busy doing research and development on a couple of new products. One is the All-Paca Sleeping Bag Liner, which was released last month. The other exciting new addition will be on the way this summer—so keep an eye out! Our Limited Edition Hoodie colors will also be making a comeback, and we have some really great colors planned.
We want to say a special thank you to The Herd for all of your support during this time. We’ve seen many messages from customers who ordered small items like Beanies just to help us out. We appreciate your patience as fulfillment and shipping times have been longer than usual. It would have been easy to complain, but in fact we’ve seen the opposite, with people taking the time to write kind notes of support. They haven’t gone unnoticed. Your unwavering loyalty makes us even more motivated to create incredible, innovative products. Hang in there, Herd. The best is yet to come.